National Security Network

Defense Budget

Defense Budget

Military

HASC and Deficit Reductions: The Enemy Is Us

Report 12 May 2011
 

Responsible leaders from both parties recognize that defense cuts must be part of a deficit reduction package. As Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn explained yesterday, "The defense budget alone cannot solve our deficit crisis. But it's hard to envision an overall solution - either economically or politically - that does not include some contribution from the 20 percent of government spending that goes toward defense." Yesterday the lack of coherent House leadership on the issue again came to the fore. While the House Appropriations Committee passed a budget including modest Pentagon cuts, the House Armed Services Committee was busy adding back programs the Pentagon doesn't want and relitigating policy issues - from "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to nuclear reductions to the scope of the military response to terrorism - which are ideological distractions from the pragmatic business of building a lean, effective military and getting our economy moving again.

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Military

Money and Strategy, Strategy and Money

Report 19 April 2011
 

Standard and Poor's decision to downgrade the U.S. long-term credit outlook highlights how much is at stake in the budget debate. Bipartisan experts agree that no effort to tackle the debt is serious unless it includes defense spending, which is at a high in real terms since the end of the Cold War.  A serious review includes not just "efficiency" savings but also a review of strategy, roles and missions - recognizing that, as defense expert Gordon Adams notes, "Money has always driven strategy and strategy has always influenced money."

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Military

The 2012 Budget Battle Over Defense Spending

Report 6 April 2011
 

As a potential government shutdown looms, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, yesterday released a budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year. Ryan's proposal fails to recognize that America's ability to project power and advance our security is derived from our economic well-being and that the cuts being proposed to key investments in America, as well as to our development and diplomatic assets, will undercut our strength. While bipartisan experts agree that cuts to the defense budget should go further, ironically, when it comes to the Pentagon, Ryan's proposal essentially endorses the president's budget request. This has caused deep division among conservatives by pitting those who have called for arbitrary increases in defense spending against Ryan, meaning that conservative infighting will continue to rage over these proposals. While the broader budget debate will be intense, it is clear that the president's coherent vision for defense spending has opened up a debate among his conservative critics, demonstrating that they do not have such coherence.

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Military

Budget Day

Report 14 February 2011
Today sees both the announcement of the 2012 defense budget as well as Defense Secretary Robert Gates' attempt to lay down a line on what he wants - and what he doesn't want - in the 2011 defense budget still being debated by Congress.  Given the depth of concern expressed by bipartisan political, military and national security leaders about the nation's fiscal health - from current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen and past chair Colin Powell, to House Majority Leader Cantor (R-VA) and Minority Whip Hoyer (D-MD) - the 2012 budget leaves much room for further cuts.  On top of this, the GOP's latest proposal for the 2011 Continuing Resolution leaves Defense almost untouched.  Experts from both sides of the aisle agree that if Congress is serious about reigning in spending, everything must be on the table, including defense spending.  But the Tea Party and establishment conservatives have yet to agree on a vision of U.S. security policy that matches up to sensible funding cuts, punting on the difficult decisions that the country is facing.
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Military

Budget Battles

Report 26 January 2011
 

Last night in his State of the Union address President Obama said "the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it - in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes." He went on to note that, "The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without." In short, this is no time for "sacred cows." Bipartisan political and military leaders - led by former Secretary of State Colin Powell -  agree that making smart cuts to defense spending are essential for ensuring American national security. Smart cuts take into account strategy and what Secretary Gates calls the "critical role" of civilian agencies, whether stabilizing Pakistan, training police in Afghanistan or supporting civil society in Tunisia.

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Military

NSN Statement on the Fiftieth Anniversary of President Eisenhower's Farewell Address

Press Release Washington, D.C. 18 January 2011
Today marks fifty years since President Dwight Eisenhower delivered the farewell address which famously warned against the "unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." But the whole of the speech delivers a message that is equally contemporary and challenging, whether warning against "a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties," or calling for diplomacy that will enable us to "learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose."
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Military

Gates’ Opening Salvo in “Massive, Almost Historic Battle”

Report 6 January 2011
 

Today Defense Secretary Gates will announce $100 billion in efficiency savings for the Pentagon.  The announcement targets defense programs with high cost-over runs and performance issues.  But it also represents a first test of Washington's political will - whether Republicans, Democrats and Tea Partiers alike are prepared to match "everything on the table" rhetoric with a serious, responsible effort to balance the threats of today with those of tomorrow and meet our military contributions with those from our diplomatic and development communities.  Conservative strategist Richard Vigurie has called the debate over the national debt "a massive, almost historic battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party."  But it extends beyond partisanship, as Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has reminded us: "the single-biggest threat to our national security is our debt." 

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Military

Incoming: Scrutiny of the Pentagon Budget

News The New Republic 10 November 2010
Military

Conservatives Clash over Defense Spending

Report 5 October 2010

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal op-ed by leaders of the top three conservative think tanks attempts to reimpose conservative orthodoxy on an issue - defense spending - that has sharply divided conservatives in recent months.  Against the backdrop of a slowly recovering economy and a globalizing world, thoughtful military leaders - and some political leaders from both parties - are stressing that our military might flows from our economic power, not the other way around.  Secretary Gates has frequently invoked the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said that the United States "could only be as militarily strong as it was economically dynamic and fiscally sound."  He has called on the military to align its spending with the actual challenges we face, and to make a new, serious push against waste, fraud and inefficiency.

With a commitment to use all elements of our power, not just our armed forces, those ought to be principles for bipartisan agreement.  Instead, the conservative movement's Cold War-era leaders are mounting a rearguard action that would actually increase defense spending and make its current, historically high levels permanent - regardless of the challenges we face or the state of our economy. One conservative strategist called this intra-party debate "a massive, almost historic battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party."  It also represents a test of seriousness for anyone seeking responsibility for America's security and economic health at this troubled time.

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